To help you plan your own Thailand island itinerary, we’re pleased to share our recommendations of the very best things to do in Phi Phi Island, thanks to our fabulous guest blogger, Kieren, from Got My Backpack.
An island paradise, this guide will answer all of the questions you have; everything relating to transport, costings, accommodation and, most importantly, the very best things to do in Phi Phi Island.
I often picture paradise in my head. It has beautiful turquoise water, a golden beach and little coconuts on a palm tree next to a hammock. Well, it turns out that paradise exists on the Koh Phi Phi islands in Thailand. It’s no surprise that hoards of tourists are adding it to their travel plans this year!
During my 4 months backpacking across South East Asia, the Phi Phi islands were undeniably one of my favourite destinations. Not only were the islands beautiful, but there was also a tonne of fun things to do in Phi Phi Island.
The Best Things to do in Phi Phi Island
Koh Phi Phi Leh or Don?
There are two main land masses that make up the Koh Phi Phi islands, along with a number of smaller islands.
The larger of the two, Koh Phi Phi Don, is where you’ll spend most of your time.
The main hub of the island, Tonsai Bay, has easy access to everything you’ll need including more than 80 bars and restaurants to keep you entertained. There are also hostels and hotels conveniently located here, or if you’d prefer, you can opt to stay at one of the resorts across the island for a more relaxed atmosphere, away from the hustle and bustle.
The smaller uninhabited island, Koh Phi Phi Leh, is worth visiting on a day trip.
It has caves, a stunning lagoon with brilliant snorkelling and is home to the infamous Maya Bay beach. Although now closed to tourists, Maya Bay beach is known for appearing in the Hollywood film ‘The Beach’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio, a backpacker on the hunt for the perfect paradise.
Spoiler alert: He found it. And so did 5,000 other tourists every single day, which destroyed the beach and forced authorities to close it!
When to Visit the Koh Phi Phi Islands
The peak season for tourism in Koh Phi Phi is November to February as this is when the weather is at it’s best. However this is also the time that the island becomes over crowded and prices increase from their already inflated rates. So, unless you’ve got deep pockets and a penchant for other travellers, it’s not our recommended time to visit.
I’d recommend visiting in the shoulder season, between March and May. This is when I visited and despite a few short-lived rainstorms, the skies were blue, the sun was shining and I was suitably burnt to a crisp.
In my experience, shoulder season travel generally has more benefits than disadvantages, as was certainly the case here.
Getting to Phi Phi Island
It’s possible to get to Koh Phi Phi Don from both Phuket and Krabi.
From Phuket or Krabi, a ferry will cost in the region of 400 baht (USD13/NZD20) each way. It’s worth noting that if you book these online ahead of time you’ll pay significantly more.
Instead, it’s best to buy from a local tour operator once you’re actually in Thailand. Boats are plentiful so you’re unlikely to have a hard time finding a spot onboard.
If you’re coming from further afield, it’s best to book a bus/boat combo from your original destination and head straight to Koh Phi Phi on the one ticket.
Expect to pay around 900 baht (USD30/NZD45) for a sleeper bus/boat combo from Bangkok or between 800 and 1,100 baht (USDUSD25-35/NZD40-55) from the Gulf islands such as Koh Tao or Koh Samui.
How Much Does it Cost to Be on Koh Phi Phi Island?
As a general rule, island life is always more expensive than mainland life.
Koh Phi Phi is no exception. In fact, it’s one of the most expensive places I visited in Thailand. It’s absolutely worth it though!
A budget backpacker hostel could set you back as much as 800 baht (USD25/NZD40) during peak season, but heed my advice and travel in shoulder season to secure a price of 400 baht (USD13/NZD20) or less.
Should you be looking for nicer accommodation, there are plenty of resorts looking to take your money.
Meals are generally 150 baht (USD5/NZD7) and beers are around 100 baht (USD3/NZD5) in a bar.
Accommodation Recommendations whilst in Koh Phi Phi
With such a broad range of accommodation on hand, there’s something to suit all needs and budgets on Koh Phi Phi.
- Hangover Hostel. Social, friendly and well-located, though this hostel is relatively basic, it’s the place to be (and, as someone who stayed there, I can assure you of a personal recommendation). Budget hostel.
- Phi Phi Don Chukit Resort. Surprisingly affordable, comfortable, beachfront and with a beautiful pool – great value! Budget.
- Phi Phi Coco Beach Resort. With it’s stunning pool, beachfront location, character-filled huts and amazing reviews, this resort is a real winner. Moderately priced luxe.
- Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort. Designed for maximum relaxation, this resort has everything you could ever need on hand (including four different restaurants) and modern chalets to tuck up in at the end of each day. Luxury.
Top Things To Do in Phi Phi Island
It’s tempting to sit in a hammock all day and sip on coconuts, but I’d urge you to find some energy and get out to explore the islands.
They’re incredibly beautiful and offer so much to visitors.
Things to Do in Phi Phi Don
Phi Phi Viewpoint
The creatively named ‘Viewpoint 2’ is the best of the three viewpoints and, with picture-postcard views, it’s the island’s must see attraction.
The paved pathway to the viewpoint is easy to reach from Tonsai Bay and takes about 30 minutes at a leisurely pace. At the top you’ll find a viewing deck and cafe. Sunset is the best time to get a beautiful view although it gets very busy, so head up early in the day if you’re looking to escape the crowds.
Insane Beach parties
Never mind the monthly full moon parties on Koh Phangan. There’s a party on the beaches of Koh Phi Phi every single night.
Start off with the daily live music at Banana Bar then head across to the beach front bars to dance until the early morning. Expect fire shows, skipping ropes and limbo challenges as you move between the lively bars that line the beach.
Once the beach quietens down, most backpackers will head to the only bar that stays open, aptly named The Only Bar. Here you’ll find unlimited supply of laughing gas, mushroom shakes and beer to ensure you finish the night on the floor – they do things differently in Thailand!
Muay Thai at Reggae Bar
No visit to Thailand is complete without some Muay Thai, the country’s national sport. In the centre of Tonsai Village you’ll find Reggae Bar. Despite the confusing name, there is no reggae music to be found here – instead, you’ll find a boxing ring, front and centre.
As well as matches between Muay Thai professionals, tourists can get in the ring in return for a free bucket of cocktails.
Entry is free but you’ll need to purchase at least one drink (which is a little above the island average). It’s not to be missed though!
Things to Do on both Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh
Without doubt, Phi Phi’s marine life is one of its top attractions.
We visited a number of incredible snorkelling spots around the island where we witnessed swaths of brightly coloured fish speeding around below the surface. At one point we even spotted a baby shark as it darted away from us.
I recommend taking one of the half day snorkelling tours to experience some of the best locations. Most will also stop off at Monkey Beach, a secluded stretch of sand where monkeys rule free.
Take the afternoon tour to finish with an ocean sunset view followed by the luminous plankton after dark. A half day tour will set you back about 400 baht (USD13/NZD20).
There is also the option of a booze cruise if that’s more your thing.
Regardless of what you choose, a day in and around the water is a winning day in my eyes!
The islands in the Phi Phi archipelago are just as beautiful below the sea as above, making it another top spot for diving in Thailand.
With limestone walls and soft corals, the region is a national marine park due to its natural beauty.
If you’re learning to dive, there are a number of dive schools and resorts across the island where you can stay and get your PADI qualification.
For more advanced divers, the infamous King Cruiser Wreck is a must do activity.
Explore the Beaches
Koh Phi Phi was made famous for its appearance in the film ‘The Beach‘. Whilst you cannot visit the legendary beach that featured in the films, there are many other stunning beaches across the two islands.
The main beach at Tonsai Bay is where most tourists choose to bathe. But, you’d be a mug to think this is the best beach on Koh Phi Phi Don. Truly discover how magical this island is by taking a short hike through the jungle to the less inhabited beaches on the northern side of the island.
If you don’t fancy the jungle hike, you can always pay a long boat driver to take you around Koh Phi Phi’s top attractions and beaches; you’ll be able to hire one from most beaches.
Alternatively, Long Beach at the southern tip of Phi Phi Don is also nice and a little more easily accessed via road.
With so many fantastic things to do in Phi Phi Island, it’s a Thai paradise just waiting for you.
Stunning beaches, tropical marine ecosystems, an exciting party scene and secluded spots; Phi Phi island is the stuff of dreams.
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A guest post by Kieren: Kieren is a traveller from the UK with a bucket list that won’t stop growing. Adventures to date include inter-railing through Europe, road tripping the US West Coast and backpacking across South East Asia. Kieren writes about his travels at Got My Backpack – check him out for more amazing adventures!